Update on the progress of our flu and COVID-19 vaccination programme.
Our Winter respiratory vaccination strategy sets out our plans for an integrated vaccination programme. It details how we will offer both the flu and COVID-19 booster vaccines to eligible individuals this year.
Our 3 main priorities for our winter respiratory vaccination programme are:
- protecting those at greatest risk
- protecting children and young people
- ensuring that nobody is left behind by continuing to offer the initial course of the COVID-19 vaccine
The Winter Respiratory Vaccination Programme (WRVP) commenced on 1 September 2022. It brings together the COVID-19 and flu vaccination programmes.
Vaccination transformation programme
The new National Immunisation Framework for Wales was published on 25 October 2022. It sets out how we will transform vaccination programmes to improve service provision for everyone in Wales. This Framework has been developed on a co-production basis. Welsh Government and the NHS worked as one team to identify and use lessons from the pandemic to improve all vaccination programmes.
Progress against strategy
Protecting those at greatest risk
Vaccination for the COVID eligible groups started on 1 September. The programme began vaccinating:
- residents and staff working in care homes for older adults
- individuals who are housebound
- frontline health and social care workers
We are in the process of inviting other eligible groups for COVID-19 vaccination. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has identified these as:
- all adults aged 50 years and over
- persons aged 5 to 49 years in a clinical risk group, as set out in the Green Book (gov.uk)
- persons aged 5 to 49 years who are household contacts of people with immunosuppression, as defined in the Green Book (gov.uk)
- persons aged 16-49 who are carers
All those eligible for a flu vaccine, which includes everyone over 50, is encouraged to find out more about how they can access their vaccine in their area of Wales.
Protecting children and young people
The following are eligible for the flu vaccination this year:
- children aged 2 and 3 years
- children in primary school from reception class to Year 6
- children and young people in secondary school Year 7 to Year 11
- people aged 6 months to 49 years in a clinical risk group as set out in the Welsh Health Circular on flu
Parents or guardians will be asked to give consent. We encourage parents, guardians, children and young people to discuss together whether or not to have the vaccination. Factual information is available on the Public Health Wales website to help make this decision.
Most children and young people will get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre. Some areas will also be offering the vaccine through special schools. Vaccine roll-out will be informed by local knowledge and may change depending on circumstances.
Health boards will mainly use school nursing services to deliver the children’s nasal flu spray vaccine. Follow up sessions and the use of GPs will also be part of the vaccination deployment model.
Nobody left behind
Vaccine equity remains a key principle of Wales’ vaccination programme. The ‘nobody left behind’ principle, embedded into our vaccination strategy, is built on the premise that everyone should have fair access and fair opportunity to take up the offer of a vaccination.
Health Boards are continuing to work in partnership with wider stakeholder groups and key partners. The NHS will continue to make the vaccine available and accessible to achieve high levels of uptake.
The National Immunisation Framework describes vaccination equity as being at the core of service design and delivery. The Framework outlines key actions to make this a reality for all vaccination programmes.
Summary of our overall progress
The programme is on track to issue invitation letters by the end of November to all those eligible for autumn vaccination.
Since commencement of the Winter Respiratory Vaccination Programme on 1 September:
- 838,015 COVID-19 boosters have been given (as at 14 November 2022)
- 12,892 COVID-19 boosters have been given to staff working in care homes (as at 14 November 2022)
- 11,711 COVID-19 boosters have been given to care home residents (as at 14 November 2022)
- 30,784 COVID-19 boosters have been given to people who are severely immunosuppressed (as at 14 November)
The summary of flu uptake published by Public Health Wales on 8 November notes the following uptake levels, which are broadly in line with previous years at this point in the campaign:
- 61.9% of 65 years and older
- 29.5% of those at risk aged 6 months to 64 years
More data on flu uptake will become available as the programme progresses.
Working together to deliver the Winter Respiratory Vaccination Programme
As COVID-19 cases in the community continue to rise, vaccinators within Powys Teaching Health Board have devised and delivered a remarkable programme of out-reach vaccinations for vulnerable residents of care homes for older adults, domiciliary care and in-patients throughout the county.
In only 10 days, the team completed more than 81 per cent of all COVID-19 vaccines for this group, covering a range of remote settings scattered throughout the 2,000 square miles of the county of Powys.
Jenny Spreafico, the Health Board’s Lead Nurse for Immunisation and Vaccination for COVID-19, said:
We worked in close collaboration with the lead nurses in the COVID-19 Mass Vaccinations Centres, District Nursing, Community Nursing and Learning Disability Specialist nursing teams.
This made the process as seamless as possible for all of our vulnerable care home residents and in-patient groups. This target population is a constantly changing group, but it totals around 1,100 individuals spread across various hospital and community settings throughout the county.
Mererid Bowley, Powys Teaching Health Board’s Director of Public Health, commented:
The teams have worked together with care home managers to resolve the significant logistical challenges of vaccinating more than 900 individuals in only 10-days. This really is a remarkable achievement considering the large distances and small disbursed communities that we serve. At the heart of the programme is offering protection through vaccination to those at greatest risk as quickly as possible.
All those eligible will receive an invitation for their COVID-19 booster by 30 November.
All those eligible will receive an invitation for their flu vaccine by 31 December.